Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June Is Busting Out All Over!

When I was a child, and I listened to "old people" talk about 'how time flies', I couldn't understand what they meant. For kids, time simply crawls! (Summer will never get here! Graduation seems so far away! Thirty is so old!) Now that I'm an 'old people' myself, I finally understand what those other old people meant. But I have to wonder why they didn't warn us not only that time flies, but that it flies at the speed of light!

I am always busy, but I often feel like I'm standing still as time rushes past me, especially in the garden. All last winter, when I was dreaming about the new garden, it seemed like the chance to plant was never going to arrive. Then, finally, I was putting tiny little transplants in the ground!

Suddenly, the garden is exploding! I'm picking several squash daily, and cucumbers every other day. The cucumbers are giants! Even the pickling cukes are really fat! I'm getting a handful of cherry tomatoes here and there, but most of the numerous tomatoes are still green. I'm hoping they'll come in many at once so I'll have enough to can, freeze, and dry.

I thought this 32'x22' garden would have enough room for everything I wanted to plant. Perhaps the problem wasn't as much a lack of space as it was putting too much in it! I planted 9 watermelon plants on the east side in an area about 3'x28'. They have easily filled that space and are now reaching out through the fence. There are too many escaping arms to contain. And in the other direction, the watermelon are wrapping themselves around the squash plants. I can envision little baby squatershmelons growing by the end of summer! I hope they don't go after the eggplants and peppers just past the squash!

We planted 45 tomato plants in the garden this year. I was delighted that we had enough room for this many, but unfortunately, that "time flies" thing has really caused a problem. Only a few of the plants have been caged, and that with those cheap little funnel type cages that really don't do much. We kept talking about making cages, and John installed a post on either end of the rows with cable running between to make some sort of support, but commitments and other responsibilities around the farm kept us delayed. Consequently, the tomatoes are sprawling! On the east side, they have completely overwhelmed a row of small pepper plants, and on the west side, they're mingling with the pumpkin and cantaloupe, which themselves don't have enough room. Like the squashershmelons, I could be harvesting tomaloupes and tompkins by the end of summer. Next year, I absolutely intend to put up tomato supports when the small tomato plants go in the ground!

We planted a Three Sisters in the lower garden. That's an ancient Native American practice of planting corn, beans, and a vining squash together. The idea is that all three should come to fullness at the same time, for a single harvest. Of course, watching the corn and beans sprouting sporatically, gives me the indication that a common harvest won't happen. And the squash (spaghetti, butternut, and acorn), planted separately in tiny peat pots a week after the squash and beans, have sprouted in less than a week and are progressing faster than the aforementioned. So I question the reality of a common harvest.

Back in the Kitchen Garden, it is remarkable that the pepper plants have remained so small, and yet, are producing fruit nearly as large as themselves. The bell peppers are the largest we've ever had, but I would like to see them get a bit bigger. The jalapeno, the cayenne, and the red hot cherries are also producing well, though they are not ready for harvest. We've been getting banana peppers for weeks, and enough for me to have already done two small-batch cannings. We shall enjoy them in salads, on sandwhiches, and as snacks later in the year.

This is the first time we've grown pumpkin. We planted 2 vines, and there are 4 baby pumpkins right now. Most are the size of golf balls, but one is as big as a softball already! These pumpkins are not meant to grow into giants. They are 'Buttercup' and should be just a few pounds each.

The garden is fenced and sits to the north of the dog yard. There is an area about 8'x25' that John cleared of small trees and overgrown bushes. In this area we hope to have a small patio with seating and an arbor next year. We had a lot of wild conconrd grape vines growing in this area too. They were growing out of control way up into trees and across the way into and through the forsythia bushes. I'm just not one to appreciate such chaos, and we have 100' of grape vines at the bottom of the property, so I wasn't that keen on keeping these grapes, especially since I wanted to train something up the arbor next year. I asked John to cut the grapes down, which he did, but not all. I was surprised to find that the grapes found their way to the dog run fence, and have trained themselves across it. It's beautiful, and I love it! No chaos!

It's almost time for the figs to ripen. Well, it won't be until late July or early August, but I'm already looking up my best fig recipes, including fig preserves, which, it turns out, are very easy to prepare. We have two fig orchards, so we always get quite a few. Last year, I tried giving a bunch away, but nobody knew what to do with them, and I was told the figs went bad and were dumped. !!!! At the very least, I could have fed them to our pig, Lulu, who would have loved them!

There is much more going on in the garden, and around the rest of the property at 5 Acre Farm. This is enough of an update for now. As I said earlier, time flies at light speed, and already, I'm behind on a lot of things that need to be done!

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